Since Pattie Smith and her husband built Charlotte Racquet Club North in 1998 to infuse northern Charlotte with much-needed tennis action, they’ve watched the club blossom from seven courts and a doublewide trailer to a sweeping 14-court facility complete with a pool and a fitness complex. Pattie plans on adding four indoor courts by November to keep members playing through the winter—including one 78-year-old ace who games, sets, and matches twice a week.
The eight hard-courts at AMP Tennis's facility are rarely empty. As the centerpiece of the AMP Tennis academy, the sun-baked rectangles host a bustling schedule of private lessons, USTA tournament play, clinics for adults, seasonal academies for juniors, and even special programs for children ages 3 and 4. In the middle of all the ball-thwacking fury is owner and tennis director [Chad C. Oxendine(http://gr.pn/1472k9h), a USPTA pro whose on-court experience includes a collegiate career at UNC-Wilmington, where he rose to play number-one singles and doubles as a senior without ever using a corked racket. Chad's efforts to pass on his love for the game have been as formidable as his own play between the lines—he garnered record participation numbers in his former position as Tennis Director in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and he earned a High Performance Coaching designation from the USTA in 2004.
Not long after she learned to walk, Jen Babb was learning how to swing a tennis racket. This early introduction made a profound impact, and she eventually got a USPTA certification to share her passion for the sport with others. Today, she teaches both kids and adults during private and group lessons, which she separates by age group to foster camaraderie and fair competition. Up to 10 students fill each class, so students get individual attention without having to balance rackets on their chins. Jen specializes in teaching the foundational aspects of tennis, making her a good coach for beginning and intermediate players.
Yann Thefaine was dissatisfied with the country-club approach to tennis lessons. After instructing at a local club and witnessing its exorbitant rates, he decided to open the Tennis Academy of North Carolina, a teaching community where reasonably priced instruction would foster a widespread passion for tennis. This was more than a decade ago. Today, Yann, a USPTA-certified Professional 1 instructor, and his talented staff of instructors continue to develop lesson plans that cultivate solid tennis strokes and wallets fuller than the penalty box during a family croquet game. Their expertise adapts to the needs of beginners and advanced tennis players during clinics and private lessons in which coaches hone techniques in a way that benefits individual learning styles.
During cardio-tennis classes, teachers motivate pupils of all skill levels through segments of dynamic stretching and short aerobic exercises to the sound of music. Students sharpen their game and ascend to higher levels of fitness in an encouraging group environment. The same camaraderie flourishes at summer camps for ages 4–14. Divided by age and ability, kids enjoy hours of sporty sparring and instruction as the summer sun bronzes skin. The clinics combine structured drills with live match play, giving pupils time to hone their technique and sharpen their competitive edge.
As a former ATP Tour professional and the first junior player to ever make the Davis Cup team for his home country of Nigeria, Surma passes on his wealth of international tennis experience to new generations of players through his namesake company. Since 1989, he has overseen a team of certified tennis professionals that imparts the principles of hard work, proper technique, and competitive spirit to their students, all within an environment that promotes sportsmanship and fun. Players of all skill levels can improve their play, from beginners working on fundamentals to advanced players looking for skilled hitting partners. Likewise, intermediate players can take their skills to the next level as they learn strategies that are far more effective than grunting incessantly before the match begins.